Category Archives: Child Custody

What to do when your Differences Cannot be Reconciled?

Irreconcilable Differences (“ID divorce”) is Mississippi’s answer to the NO FAULT* divorce.  Mississippi is not a true NO FAULT state. In MS both parties must agree to the divorce and to all the terms of the divorce, including ALL issues of child custody, child support, equitable distribution (how MS divides your stuff) and alimony, if any.  Every issue has to be agreed upon to gain an ID divorce***.  If ALL can be agreed upon, an ID divorce is just about the quickest and least expensive way to get a divorce in MS.

Stuart Miles/free digitalphotos.net
The basic process is;

1) File a Joint Complaint for Divorce (begins the 60 day waiting period**),

2) Exchange Financial Statements (called an 8.05),

3) Draft and sign an Agreement stating all of the details of who gets what, and who pays what (called a Property Settlement Agreement or PSA),

4) Draft and sign a Final Judgment (the actual divorce), and finally

5) Present all to the Judge for approval.

The Judge will review the Filings, Financial Statements and Agreement, and if the judge finds it “adequate and sufficient” will sign off.   Upon the signed Final Judgment being filed and recorded by the clerk- You are DIVORCED.

Well that is fine, but what if we thought we could agree and now we cannot? What can I do then?

Either party can prevent an ID divorce by;

1) Not agreeing;

2) Not signing anything;

3) Filing on Fault;

4) Filing a Notice of Withdrawal of Consent.

An ID divorce is the most often granted type of divorce in Mississippi and even most fault based divorces are converted into an ID divorce.  The benefit to an ID divorce is that it does not require adversarial positions to be taken in Court and it gives you, the parties, the ability to agree and have the say in the outcome of your situation.  Anything that could be had in a fault based divorce can likewise be achieved in an ID divorce, with the sole exception of having the divorce granted on fault.

* In a NO FAULT state either party can secure the divorce regardless if the other party agrees . In the event they cannot agree the Court can divide the property.

** The 60 day waiting period is the minimum time that the parties to an ID divorce must wait. It is designed as a cooling off period.

*** There is also the possibility of a hybrid situation where you and your spouse can agree on the divorce and agree to let the Judge decide the issues that you cannot agree upon.  This technique, however, has its risks and should not be gone into lightly and certainly not without consultation of an attorney.

Visit the website: Thompson Law Firm

You may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or concern at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms

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Footballs and Labradors: Wild Custody Battles & Compromises

With High School and College Football in full action it reminded me of some of the lighter, or at least non-traditional, custody battles that I have been involved in.

 

 

Season Football Tickets-  I was involved in a case where the parties were arguing over who got the season football tickets.

The tickets were secured by one party who had been getting them for years, but were actually paid for by the other party, so both felt they had a legitimate claim, additionally both genuinely wanted the tickets. It was not posturing by the wife to get a better deal or more support.  The solution was joint custody.

Each picked certain games that they would attend each year and on the ones that both wanted to attend they agreed to alternate even years and odd years to determine who got to go.  Another interesting aside was that there were 2 tickets for each game.  Who the guest would be was also an issue. Neither wanted the other to be able to take a bf/gf. The compromise there was that the other ticket would be used by a family member or a minor friend of the children. (Minor meaning under 21, not just small).  The custody of the tickets was one of the last issues to get resolved. It really did matter.

Dogs- In a similar vein, I have handled several cases involving pets.  Pets, under Mississippi law are considered personal property (like an item or thing), however the parties are free to treat pets as members of the family should they so elect, and many do.

The parties ultimately agreed on a week-on, week-off custody arrangement for the dog to be with each “parent.”  The agreement also addressed the expenses associated with the dog, including food, care and vet bills. Don’t forget those items!

Almost anything can be negotiated.

Labor Day and Visitation

With Labor Day approaching it is a good time to reflect on the contributions and achievements of American workers.  Those efforts are the reason we celebrate  Labor Day, and have since it became a Federal holiday in 1894.

Labor_day : Labor Day Design  with the handoff worker holding the wrench Stock Photo

Labor Day is also a good reminder for paying attention to visitation issues.  It is extremely common in the divorce agreements that I prepare that the non-custodial parent receive additional time, more than the every other weekends that seem “standard.”  I often include that the weekend extends through the Monday holiday.  This gives that parent additional time with the child of uninterrupted visitation.

In fact, I have a schedule of all Federal and State Holidays and routinely have this specifically addressed in custody/visitation agreements.  There is almost one Monday holiday in every month.  These times add up and provide both parents additional welcomed time with the child and perhaps, even, a much needed break.  Pay attention to the details when ironing out the specifics in a custody/visitation agreement and make sure you address the other holidays and not just the “big” ones.